Marco's Training Log (Powerlifter)

The training cycle
I recently attended my first powerlifting meet and it didn’t went well. I found out that I had to work a lot harder and maybe go back to the basics. In this training cycle, I’m going to lower the weights and increase the volume a lot. Also I’m going to add assistance exercises that I never used before.

This training cycle will, hopefully, built some muscle to prepare my body for the next training cycle which will be a strength builder. I will not monitor my bodyweight at all. I will eat my ass off in between training sessions.

This will be a 19 week training cycle and I will probably attend one or two powerlifiting meets along the way. However, I will attend these meets to gain experience, not to perform.

Here are my current maxes (15th of August 2016)

  • Low bar Squat: 465lbs (201.9kg)
  • High bar Squats: 415lbs (188.2kg)
  • Bench press: 305lbs (138.3kg)
  • Sumo deadlift: 605lbs (274.4kg)
  • Conventional deadlift: 495lbs (224.5kg)
    These maxes were performed at arround 180lbs (81.6kg) bodyweigth

In this training cycle, my main lifts will be the high bar squat, the stiff leg deadlift, the standing strict overhead press and the close grip bench press. I will train those in sets of 10 reps starting with 3 to 5 sets, working my way up to 10 sets with a constant weight through the weeks. I will perform my assistance exercises with rep ranges from 10 to 20 reps.

With this kind of rep scheme, I hope tho increase my workload capacity before I hit the heavy loads in my next training cycle.

eating your ass off… going to count cals? i find if i dont count calories but ‘eat my ass off’ i actually end up eating less than i should.
also, thats a pretty big discrepancy beetwen your deadlifts, how is that?
also what sort of mistakes did u make or what lessons did u learn after your first performance? I’d like to know cause im thinking about maybe competing in a meet next year.

EDIT: also i just read what your main lifts are going to be, interesting choice. do you think it would make more sense to keep your main lifts as your normal sq/b/d and maybe use those lifts as assistance to hammer at weak points? You could focus maybe the first half of your cycle on working on weak points then use different assistance lifts to focus on the strong points you already have. just my .02

1 Like

This looks like it’ll be an interesting read. Those are good numbers for a dude your size who’s only just starting out in powerlifting. What did you total?

I’ll second the query on your reasoning behind your main lift selection. Why do you think those lifts will drive your competition lifts?

I’m also going to go ahead and say I think your chosen rep ranges are, shall we say, ambitious in the extreme and bordering on unwise if you’re aiming to get stronger. You’ll get freaking huge if you eat enough (track calories, it’ll help make sure you get enough in), but I have my doubts as to how well your strength will progress.

Thanks for your input man! You got some interesting points there. I didn’t plan on counting calories. Usually I go with a simple rule for strength and weigth gains: “If eating is comfortable, your doing it wrong”.

Like you said, my deadlift is way stronger than my other lifts. I think this is due to leverages. For instance, I have relatively long arms and high hips. With these leverages, by going sumo I greatly reduce the range of motion.

I made a mistake because it was my first meet and I wanted to set a new provincial record in the 83kg junior class. All I needed to do was to pull 273.5kg (603lbs) which I had already done. The problem is that I didn’t consider a few things that make lifting harder in competition: The water cut (I didn’t rehydrate properly), the plates that are much thinner which makes it harder to keep balance at the top of the lift, also the competition bar (eleiko) that is much stiffer that what I train with in training. I ended up lifting all of my three attempts, but I couldn’t hold it at the top of the lift. I got all of my three attempts refused so I bombed out on my favourite lift. If I had to do it again, I would go for a lighter opener on the deadlift and don’t think about the damn record. I would focus on doing 9/9 and getting only white lights.

Finally, the reason why I chose those lifts (main lifts) is that because they have greater range of motion for me and I think its more suitable for a high rep scheme. I use the competition lifts to test strength, not the build strength.

Hey MarkKO, I didn’t get a total at the meet, I bombed out on the deadlifts. Two weeks prior to that I got 1385lbs (628.2kg) in a mock meet though.

I have to say that I believe these lifts will drive my competition lifts out of a little bit of experience and a lot of faith! In the past year I have seen my sumo deadlift going up with my high bar squat (without actually training the sumo deadlift). The same happened with my low bar squat.

Like you said, in this training cycle I might not gain a ton of strength but I do it mainly to build workload capacity. I might trad a volume session or two for a few heavy lifts to maintain strength along the way. Also, I’m quite new to the sport and I believe that to become great I should experiment a little bit so I’m getting out of my comfort zone on that training cycle! I might not be able to go through with this program, but I got to try and it’s also why I started this training log :wink:

I really appreciate the input, I hope you guys are gonna keep reading!

Day 1 (August 15th 2016)
AM training session

  • High bar squats: 4 sets of 10 reps at 295lbs (133.8kg). Superset with dumbell stiff leg deadlifts. (40lbs dumbell for 4-5 reps just to feel the stretch)

  • Standing strict overhead press: 4 sets of 10 reps at 95lbs (43.1kg)

By the end of the squats I was spent. I needed to take 5-10mins before I could do the strict presses. Considering that I want to get to 10 sets of 10 reps with this weight, I think this training cycle is gonna be painful and a lot of fun. I expect the first two weeks to be really hard since I haven’t worked with sets of more than 7 reps in almost a year. It’s gonna take time to adapt, but I’m going to get through.

I’ll be adding the assistance work by the beginning of next week.

1 Like

That makes sense. I think the biggest point I picked out from your responses was that you should consider getting, or getting regular access to, an Eleiko bar. I’m lucky in that because don’t compete in an IPF affiliate, pretty much any bar I use to DL will be stiffer than a DL bar in competition (ditto for bench); but I make sure to use a squat bar for my squats.

Your logic with the lift selection is sound when you explain it that way. Good idea with your DL attempts too. It’s usually my strong lift too, and I much prefer to open low.

You are definitely right about getting access to an Eleiko bar! There is a powerlifting gym in my area that I could probably get to once or twice per month when I reincorporate the heavy deads in my training.

That should do it. A whippy bar won’t hurt your competition squat because it’ll just be easier with a stiff bar.

Day2 (16th of august 2016)
PM Training Session

Stiff leg deadlifts
(superset with some goblet squat)
4 sets of 10 reps @ 295lbs (133.8kg)

Close grip bench press
(superset with dumbell rows)
3 sets of 10 reps @ 185lbs (83.9kg)
1 set of 9 (+ failed rep) @ 185lbs (83.9kg)

Those were my main lifts for the day. After those I felt pretty good so I threw a bunch of assistance exercises:

Hip thruster
4 sets of 15 reps @ 135lbs (61.2kg)

Rear necked dumbell tricep extensions
3 sets of 15 reps @ 80lbs (36.3kg) (I used only one dumbell)

Leg curls superset with bodyweight dips (20 reps each)

Hanging abs crunches

And that was it for my posterior chain and tricep day!

Day3 (17th of august 2016)
PM Training Session

  • High Bar squats: 4 sets of 10 reps 295lbs (133.8kg)
    These felt very differently than two days ago. It went really well for the first three sets. I found out that segmenting my sets really helped to tolerate the pain. For instance, instead of counting from 1 to 10, I would count 5 reps than 3 than 2 for the first set. Then when I get fatigued I would count 3, 3, 2 and 2.
    Things got a little bit ugly on the 4th set though. My form started to break down due to fatigue and instead of pushing harder with my quads, my but started to shoot up. By then end of that last set, my lower back was jammed, packed with blood.

  • Standing barbell strict press: 4 sets of 10 reps 95lbs (43.1kg)
    I had a rough time press with a tight core. Actually I had difficulty to bend over and pickup the bar I wanted to press. I had to foam roll and stretch a bit before I can press anything. Other than that, my pressing went well.

Assistance work

  • Dumbbell lunges 4 sets of 15 reps each side with a pair of 30lbs (13.6kg) dumbbell.
  • Pendlay row: 4 sets of 10 reps with a 95lbs (43.1kg) barbell
  • Leg extension (burnout sets)

After those I was tired but there was a few weaknesses I needed to address, so I performed a little circuit so I could go home faster.
I did 3 rounds of the following:

  • Band face pulls (focusing on traps and upper back) 20 reps
  • Dumbbell shrugs 20 reps with 65lbs (29.5kg) dumbbells
  • 1 min plank

As far as tolerating pain and working hard goes, I still have a lot of work to do, but I already feel than I’m progressing on my mental toughness.

Day4 (18th of august 2016)
PM Training session

  • Stiff leg deadlift: 4 sets of 10 reps with 295lbs (133.8kg)
    The last set of those was kinda hard and my lower back was tight. So tight that I had issues doing barbell rows two exercises after that one. That lower back thing is starting to become an issue. I think I can avoid it by restricting my squats to perfect form, but for the deadlift, even if my form is good I think I’m gonna have to find a way to stretch my back and to gain mobility in that area.

  • Close grip bench press: 4 sets of 10 reps with 185lbs (83.9kg)
    These went well. I can really feel my triceps and chest working. Also I got one more rep than two days agon on my last set allowing me to complete the 4x10. I think I might progress quickly on that one in the following weeks. We’ll see…

Then the assistance work:

  • Hip thrusters: 4 sets of 15 reps with 135lbs (61.2kg)
    I don’t feel like I’m working a lot on that one. The weight might be too light but I think I have technical issues. I still can’t find the right foot stance and the right place to put the bar on my hips. When I get that fixed I’ll definetly increase the weight.

  • Barbell row: 4 sets of 15 reps with 135lbs (61.2kg)
    This might have been a little light, but like I said earlier, my lower back was so sore I couldn’t hold more weight. This is getting really annoying.

  • Leg curls (20 reps) superset with close grip cable row (20)
    I’m not sure I’m working hard enought on the leg curls. I can feel the burn (a lot) during the set, but I don’t feel fatigue in my hamstrings at the end of the workout. I might need to increase the weight a bit.

Reverse hypers can work wonders

I’ve heard a lot about them, but I never had access to that piece of equipment! Maybe I could work something out with bands.

Day5 (20th of August 2016)

Today was a special day. I visited a good friend for a “Lifting + BBQ” day. That guy has all the nice toys in his garage so we went to his place with a couple friends and we lifted heavy things. I live for that kind of days!

We started with deadlifts of course. I worked up to a 495lbs (224.5kg) conventional pull. Then we benched and I hit 295lbs (133.81kg). Then I squatted 435lbs (197.3kg).

After that we grabbed a beer or two and I got to do some very fun lifts. I did some axle bar overhead press and some log presses. I even flipped a 750lb (340.2kg) tire. I only flipped it once though, and it was probably really ugly to look at, but it was awesome!

1 Like

I’ve seen people use an incline bench by lying face down on the back with legs hanging behind. Add bands and you could be on the money.

That sounds like a good plan!

Day6 (21st of August)
A case for sugar and laziness

This week I’ll try to increase my volume to 5 sets of 10 reps (1 set added) for my main lifts.

  • High bar squats: 5 sets of 10 reps with 295lbs (133.8kg)
    These felt really good. I really focused on keeping my back straight through the lift. My quads and glutes were pumped and I barely felt my lower back. Based on how I felt during those sets I’m confident that I’ll hit 6 sets next week!

  • Overhead strict press: 5 sets of 10 reps with 95lbs (43.1kg)
    These felt even better than the squats! I had a really good tricep and shoulder pump.

I didn’t have time far assistance work cause I had to go to work. Actually I would have had time if I haven’t beed so lazy. I played video games while eating candies all morning. Anybody that knows me wouldn’t even believe it. The thing is that I hate video games! Honestly I believe this is due to a recent increase in sugar intake in my diet. In the past I notice that I get lazy when I eat to much sugar, and since I don’t watch my weight anymore I went crazy with the sweets. Needless to say that it was a mistake. From now I’ll limit my sugar intake and get the damn work done.

Peace out

Day7 (23rd of august 2016)

Today I had a great training session. I worked out with an old training partner. We started with Cleans. I worked up to a heavy (for me) single at 265lbs (165.6kg). Then I followed with the exercises I had planned:

  • Stiff leg deadlift: 5 sets of 10 reps with 295lbs (133.8kg)
    I experiencing a huge improvement with my lower back issue. This time I focused on keeping the bar close to my shins all the way through the movement. Not only did it spare my lower back, but I felt a lot more work in my glutes and hamstrings (which are weaknesses of mine). This was a game changer. I probably could have hit one or two more sets but thats for next week.

  • Close grip bench press: 5 sets of 10 reps with 185lbs (83.9kg)
    These felt good. I’m happy with those sets since last week I almost did not finish my 4th set.

Assistance work

  • Hip thrusters: 4 sets of 15 reps with 135lbs (61.2kg)
    Last week I couldn’t feel like I was working with that exercise. Turns out all I needed to do was to pause for a second or two at the top of the movement. After my 4th set, my glutes were all pumped up and I couldn’t walk straight. I loved it.

  • Barbell rows: 4 sets of 15 reps with 135lbs (61.2kg)
    These were harder. I barely finished those sets while swinging the 4-5 last reps. My biceps wouldn’t work anymore!


  • Leg curl 20 reps in super set with dips 20 reps.
    The dips were easy but the leg curls were killing me. Since last week I couldn’t feel my hamstrings work enough, I slowed down the eccentric portion of the movement and it worked… a lot.

  • Hanging ab crunches
    My grip strength was an issue on those. Tomorrow, my forearms will probably as sore as my abs!

All things considered, this was a great workout and I can’t wait to go to sleep!

Day8 (24th of august)

I had a really bad night of sleep and I was feeling tired all day. I still managed to get my training session done, and all things considered, I think it was a good workout!

Yesterday I started with a heavier lift to prime myself and I think it was a good idea. I didn’t want to burn myself out before I actually get the work done so I chose to do rear necked push presses. I worked up to a single at 155lbs (70.3kg) which is a little heavy for me. Then I moved on to the main lifts.

Main lifts

  • High bar squats: 5 sets of 10 reps with 295lbs (133.8kg)
    These were ok. They felt a little bit better two days ago. But still, I can see progress. Then again my lower back was fine. I think I solved the issue I had last week, yay!

  • Strict overhead press: 5 sets of 10 reps with 95lbs (43.1kg).
    These were also harder than two days ago. I guess it just wasn’t a good day. I really felt that shoulder work though, and that makes me happy.

Assistance work

  • Front squats: 4 sets of 15 reps with 135lbs (61.2kg)
    This was a really light weight, but after the high bar squats, I got me spent. Then again, the lower back wasn’t an issue. Only my quads and core were burning, which is good!

  • Barbell upright row: 4 sets of 15 reps
    I’m not sure I like those yet. I think it’s more of a traps exercise. It’s not bad on itself, but I think I should find something else for a press assistance exercise.


  • Leg extensions (of course) 4 sets of 20 reps.

  • Lateral raises 4 sets of 20 reps

  • For the abs/core, I did something I got from the mighty Ed Coan. Basically, you setup a barbell on the guards of a squat rack then you pick it up on your side with one hand and you hold it for a given amount of time. I did 15 seconds on each sides a couple time with a 95lbs (43.1kg) barbell. Hopefully this will also help me build some grip strength (which was lacking during this exercise)

Now I’m terribly tired. I’m going to sleep.

Peace out y’all!